No backup? Using zero backup for data protection

Is it possible to protect your data without conducting traditional backups? With no backup, or zero backup as backup expert Brien Posey calls it, organizations turn their redundant copies of data that have been replicated and stored off-site into a form of data protection.   

In this Storage Decisions video, Posey explains how the "philosophy" of zero backups works to protect data from Exchange Server and other applications.

"Zero backups are something we're starting to see used a little bit. It's basically the philosophy that, if you have a redundancy in place, then you don't even need a backup. I'm personally not sure I totally agree with this philosophy, but it is something that I'm starting to see" in use, said Posey.

Zero backups are frequently used with Exchange Server 2010, said Posey. Exchange allows databases to be replicated off-site by using a database availability group, and those off-site databases can be used as a form of backup, he said.

But replication isn't the only requirement for backup -- users also need point-in-time recovery for data, said Posey. In the case of Exchange, that means making use of the lag time between when data is created and eventually replicated off-site.

When Exchange is replicating data, the changes are written to the application's transactional logs, said Posey, and those changes are replicated off-site. And the user can determine how long to wait before that replication process occurs, he said.

"You need to know that, even though you are able to do this, and this does give you a means of reverting your databases to an earlier point in time, it's not a simple process. There are quite a few groups you have to go through to do a rollback," said Posey.

While Posey noted that the no-backup approach has been put into action, zero backups are not a replacement for traditional backups.

"If it were me backing up a data center, I would have a really hard time explaining to my boss that we lost data because we didn't do traditional backups, and something went wrong with the zero backup solution … Having a traditional backup is never a bad thing," he said.

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